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* WINNER: The country and job seekers - because the economy created 259,000 new jobs last month, a larger-than-expected gain.

LOSERS: The country - because, under the thinking that currently prevails at the Federal Reserve Board, the big job gain makes it more likely the Fed will hike short-term interest rates again soon. How strange.* WINNER: The movement to get more and more telephones equipped with Caller Identification. It got a big boost this week after police in Naugatuck, Conn., were able to arrest two burglary suspects because they called to see if anyone was home - a common practice among burglars - not realizing that Caller ID was recording their number.

LOSERS: Some 1.6 million American grade-school youngsters. That's how many are left home alone each week between the time school lets out and a parent returns. In fact, their numbers may be even larger than the Census Bureau was able to count.

LOSERS: Minority workers hired by the federal government. They are being fired at a rate almost three times that of white workers. Why such a disparity? Is it because of racial prejudice? Or because quotas requiring the hiring of some people without adequate work qualifications? Or are some other factors involved? Washington clearly has some explaining to do.

LOSERS: Americans - because there evidently aren't enough heroes to go around. That's the word from a new survey which found that only half of those polled have personal heroes - which the study defined as anyone with admirable courage other than family members or biblical figures. What a shame. Young people in particular need role models. But even mature adults can become cynical if they really believe there's a serious shortage of good examples.